Revised Parenting in the Age of Digital Technology

Center on Media and Human Development
School of Communication
Northwestern University



Revised
Parenting in the Age
of Digital Technology
A National Survey




                                        Revised June 2014
Table of Contents
3    Introduction
4    Key Findings
9    Methodology
10   About Parents Today
     Parent concerns
     Parent concerns about media and technology
     Parent stresses
     Parenting skills
     Sources of parenting advice
12   The Home Environment
     Television
     Mobile media technology
     Income and new technology ownership
15   Family Activities
     Favorite family activities
     Parents and children using media technologies together
16   Using Media and Technology as a Parenting Tool
     Keeping a child occupied
     Getting a child ready for bed
     Calming an upset child
     Rewarding or disciplining a child
     Educating a child
19   Parent Attitudes about Media and Technology
     Have new mobile devices made parenting easier?
     Positive and negative educational effects of media and technology
     Educational media and technology and less advantaged children
22   Parents’ Views about the Social, Behavioral, and Physical Impact of Media
     Parent attitudes about the effects of technology on social skills and behavior
     Perceived impact of technology on physical activity and sleep
24   Parent and Child Media Use
     Parents’ media use
     Children’s media use
25   Negotiating Media Use in the Family
     Family conflicts about media
     Media rules
     Parents’ sources of advice about media content
26   Family Media Types
     Media-centric parents
     Media-moderate parents
     Media-light parents
30   Conclusion
32   Appendix: Survey and Topline Data




                                                                                      1
2
Introduction
In the popular press, much is made about how new                  •	What role do media and technology play in families’
digital technologies such as iPads and smartphones are               “together” time?
revolutionizing family life. Children and parents alike now       •	How do different parenting practices and parents’ own levels
have a growing stream of new technological resources at their        of media and technology use affect the use patterns of
fingertips, offering increased opportunities for engagement,         children in the home?
entertainment, and education. But while anecdotes about
families and media abound, empirical evidence on national         The study focuses on families with young children and
trends is much harder to come by.                                 explores what is actually happening in the lives of real families,
                                                                  from all walks of life. It is based on an extensive survey of a
This study explores how parents are incorporating new digital     nationally representative sample of more than 2,300 parents of
technologies (iPads, smartphones) as well as older media          children from birth to eight years old. (The complete survey
platforms (TV, video games, and computers) into their family      questionnaire and results are provided in the appendix.) The
lives and parenting practices:                                    survey was informed by a series of four focus groups among
•	What does the family media and technology environment          parents of young children, conducted in California and
   look like today?                                               Illinois. While parents’ comments from the focus groups and
•	How widely have mobile media technologies been adopted?        from the survey are included throughout the report, the key
   Are they making parents’ lives easier?                         findings and all numeric data in the report are based on the
                                                                  results of the quantitative national survey.
•	How does the role of newer technologies compare to
   that of “traditional” platforms like television, or to other   This is a revised and corrected report. The original report
   technologies such as computers and video games?                was issued in June 2013, but due to weighting and
•	How do parents use media and technology as a parenting         computational errors by the firm that fielded the survey, GfK,
   tool, to help them get things done, or to educate their        this corrected report was necessary. For children’s advocates,
   children?                                                      educators, public health groups, policymakers, and parents, it
                                                                  is important to have an accurate understanding of what
                                                                  families’ lives really look like. Thus the goal of the present
                                                                  report is to deepen and sharpen that understanding.




                                                                                                                                   3
Key Findings
1.	While new media technologies have become                                            2.	Parents use media and technology as a tool for
    widespread, a majority of parents do not think they                                     managing daily life, but books, toys, and other activities
    have made parenting any easier. Nearly seven in ten                                     are used more often. Parents say they are more likely to
    (69%) parents say they have a smartphone in the home,                                   use books, toys, and other activities when they need to
    and 40% say they have a tablet device. Among all parents,                               keep children occupied than they are to use TV; and they
    the vast majority (70%) do not think the devices make                                   are much more likely to use TV than to use mobile media
    parenting easier, compared to 29% who say they do.                                      devices.
    Among parents who own both devices (34%), 38% say
                                                                                            For example, when parents are making dinner or doing
    that these devices have made parenting easier.
                                                                                            chores and want to keep their child busy, 87% say they are
                                                                                            very or somewhat likely to give their child an activity to
    Chart 1: New Media Technologies in the Home
                                                                                            do or a toy to play with, 79% to give them a book to read
    Among parents of children ages 0–8, percent who have
    new media devices in the household                                                      or look at, and 77% to let them watch TV. By comparison,
                                                                                            37% of those who have a smartphone or tablet say they are
              80
                                                                                            likely to give them one of those devices to use.
              60      69
                                                                                            In another common situation, when a child is upset and
                                                                                            the parent is trying to calm him or her, parents are also
    Percent




              40
                                    40                                                      more likely to turn to a toy or activity (65%) or to a book
                                                  34
              20                                                                            (58%) than to media. Forty percent say they are very or
                                                                                            somewhat likely to let the child watch TV in this
              0                                                                             circumstance, but only 17% say the same about letting the
                   Smartphone     Tablet         Both
                                  device                                                    child play with a mobile device like a smartphone or tablet
    Note: A smartphone was defined as “a cell phone that can be used to send                (among those who have one).
    email, watch videos, download apps, or access the Internet, like an iPhone,
    Galaxy or Droid.” Examples of tablet devices included “like an iPad, Kindle Fire,       When it comes to offering children a reward for good
    or Galaxy Tab.”
                                                                                            behavior or a consequence for bad behavior, media are a
                                                                                            frequently used tool, although books, activities, and toys
    Chart 2: Parenting and New Media Technologies                                           are still high on the list, and TV still trumps new mobile
    Among parents of 0–8 year-olds, percent who agree/                                      media. For example, 85% of parents say they are very or
    disagree that “smartphones and tablet devices make                                      somewhat likely to reward their child with a toy or activity,
    parenting easier”
                                                                                            70% by letting them watch TV, and 69% with a book. In
                                           3                         Strongly               comparison, 44% of those with a mobile device like a
                                                                     agree                  smartphone or tablet say they are likely to let the child use
                                                                                            one of those as a reward. TV tops the list of tools for
                            35                    26
                                                                     Somewhat               delivering consequences for bad behavior, with 72%
      Strongly                                                       agree
      disagree                                                                              saying they are likely to take away TV time and 67%
                                                                                            taking away time with toys or activities. Of parents who
    Somewhat                             35
                                                                                            own a mobile device, 60% report taking away time with it
     disagree
                                                                                            as a consequence for a child’s bad behavior.




4
3.	Parents still turn to family and friends for parenting
                                                                    Chart 3: Media and Family Conflicts
    advice far more often than to new media sources like
                                                                    Among parents of children ages 0–8, percent who agree/
    websites, blogs, and social networks. Ten percent of
                                                                    disagree that “negotiating media use causes conflicts in
    parents say they are very likely to get parenting advice        our home”
    from a website or blog, and just 5% from a social
    networking site. In contrast, nearly two-thirds (64%) say                            3
                                                                                                            Strongly agree
    they are very likely to get advice from spouses, 35% from
    their mother, 32% from a pediatrician, 24% from friends,                                 18             Somewhat agree

    and 19% from teachers. Parents are more likely to get
                                                                              46
    advice from their in-laws (18%) than from websites, blogs,                                              Somewhat disagree
    or social network sites.                                                                 31
                                                                                                            Strongly disagree
4. Parents do not report having many family conflicts or
   concerns about their children’s media use. Nearly eight
   in ten parents (77%) disagree with the statement
   “negotiating media use causes conflicts in our home,”          5.	There is still a big gap between higher- and lower-
   compared to 21% who agree with it. Parents also do not             income families in terms of access to new mobile
   report significant conflicts with their spouses over their         devices. Overall, ownership of tablets such as iPads,
   children’s media use: 84% of those with a spouse or                Kindle Fires, or Galaxy Tabs has increased, with 40% of
   partner say they usually agree with each other on this             households with 0- to 8-year-olds now owning a tablet.
   issue, while 15% say they don’t. Half (55%) of parents say         However, the divide by income is substantial: among
   they are not concerned about their children’s media use,           families earning $100,000 a year or more, two-thirds
   compared to three in ten parents who say they are very             (65%) now own such a device, while among lower-income
   (13%) or somewhat (17%) “concerned” (13% say this issue            families (less than $25,000 a year), 18% do. Similarly,
   isn't relevant given their child's age). Fifty-seven percent       while over half of lower-income homes now report having
   of parents say they are not worried about their children           a smartphone (55%), it is still far fewer than among
   becoming addicted to “new” media, although four in ten             higher-income homes (81%).
   (40%) say they are worried about that. Mothers and
                                                                  6. Parents are less likely to turn to media or technology as
   fathers differ somewhat in their perceptions of family
                                                                     an educational tool for their children than to other
   conflicts and agreements regarding technology use.
                                                                     activities. When parents are looking for an educational
   Mothers are less likely to agree with the statement that
                                                                     opportunity for their child, they are less likely to think
   “my partner and I usually agree when it comes to making
                                                                     about using media for that purpose than they are to think
   decisions about [our child’s] media use” (80% vs. 88%
                                                                     about directing their child to a book, toy, or activity. Six
   among fathers).
                                                                     in ten (61%) say they are very likely to point their child
                                                                     toward a book when looking for an educational
                                                                     opportunity and 41% to a toy or activity, compared to 16%
                                                                     who say the same about using the computer, 12% for TV,
                                                                     and 10% for a mobile device such as a smartphone or




                                                                                                                                5
tablet (among those who own one). When asked about the                               (those earning $100,000 a year or more). Similarly, lower-
      impact of various types of media on children’s academic                              income parents are also more likely to think TV has a
      skills, the only instances in which a majority of parents                            “very” positive effect on children’s reading (22%,
      attribute a positive effect to media are the impact of                               compared to 4% among the higher-income group) as well
      computers on children’s reading and math skills (60% and                             as their math and speaking skills. Similar differences are
      53%, respectively, said mainly positive) and TV’s impact                             found in parents’ views about the positives and negatives
      on children’s speaking skills (57% said mainly positive).                            of computers as well.

      However, even when a majority do not agree, parents are                         7. Parents assess video games more negatively than
      still more likely to find a positive than negative effect of                       television, computers, and mobile devices. More parents
      media and technology on many of their children’s                                   rate video games as having a negative effect on children’s
      academic skills. For example, parents are more likely to                           reading, math, speaking skills, attention span, creativity,
      say TV and computers have mainly a positive (rather than                             social skills, behavior, physical activity, and sleep than any
      negative) effect on children’s reading, math, speaking, and                          other medium.
      creativity. With regard to mobile platforms such as
                                                                                      8. For each type of technology included in the survey, a
      smartphones and tablets, more say they have a positive
                                                                                         majority of parents believe these devices have a negative
      effect on reading and math, although a plurality say they
                                                                                         impact on children’s physical activity, the most
      don’t have much effect one way or the other.
                                                                                         substantial negative outcome attributed to technology
      Lower-income parents (those earning less than $25,000 a                            in this study. Sixty-one percent of parents say video
      year) are more likely than other parents to turn to TV for                         games have mainly a negative effect on physical activity. A
      educational purposes. Half (52%) of these parents are very                         similar proportion says the same about TV (58%),
      or somewhat likely to use TV or DVDs for educational                               computers (57%), and mobile devices (54%).
      purposes, compared to 30% of higher-income parents




    Table 1: Parents’ Opinions about Media’s Effects
    Among parents of children ages 0–8, percent who say each medium has a mainly positive or negative effect on children's . . .

                                      TELEVISION                          COMPUTERS                MOBILE DEVICES*               VIDEO GAMES
                              Positive         Negative          Positive       Negative         Positive      Negative      Positive      Negative
     Reading skills              40                25               60                9            36            22            21             36
     Math skills                 37                18               53                9            31            23            18             35
     Speaking skills             56                15               28            20               21            28            11             40
     Attention span              29                42               30            27               19            38            19             45
     Creativity                  46                24               50            14               31            27            26             36
     Social skills               34                30               20            35               16            39            11             50
     Behavior                    23                35               17            20               12            30              8            48
     Sleep                       11                39                7            30                6            36              4            49
     Physical activity           20                58               10            57                8            54            10             61
    * Mobile devices were defined as “such as smartphones and tablets.”




6
9. Many parents report using media technology with their           when they are getting them ready for bed. And about one
   children, but this “joint media engagement” drops off           in four of these media-centric parents (23%) say they use
   markedly for children who are six or older. About three         media as a way to connect with their children. Children
   in ten parents say that when their children are watching        with media-centric parents spend an average of 4:29 a day
   TV (31%), using the computer (29%), or playing on a             using screen media, 2:50 more than the children of
   smartphone (29%), the parent is doing so along with the         “media-light” parents.
   child “all or most” of the time. Interestingly, fewer parents
                                                                   The largest group of parents­—roughly half (47%)­—are in
   report that level of co-viewing when using an iPad or
                                                                   the media-moderate group: These parents spend an average
   similar device (21%). This type of joint media engagement
                                                                   of just under five hours a day (4:42) using screen media at
   decreases as the child gets older, so that among 6- to
                                                                   home; they watch TV for about two hours a day (2:14),
   8-year-olds, the comparable rates are 23% for TV, 20% for
                                                                   use the computer for about an hour and a half (1:25), and
   computers, 13% for smartphones, and 11% for tablets and
                                                                   are on their smartphone for a half hour (:32) and on their
   other mobile devices.
                                                                   tablets or other devices for about 18 minutes a day. They
10. Parents are creating vastly different types of media           do not play many video games (:12). While they like TV,
    environments for their children to grow up in, and, not        they are less likely to list watching TV and movies
    surprisingly, the choices they make are strongly related       together as a favorite family activity (42% say they enjoy
    to their children’s media use. The study identified three      it “a lot”), and they are more likely to enjoy doing things
    different parenting styles regarding the family’s approach     together outside (52%, compared to 44% among the
    to media: media-centric families, media-moderate               media-centric families). Children in “media-moderate”
    families, and media-light families. Rather than the            families spend just under three hours a day (2:53) with
    commonly presented scenario of children driving more           screen media.
    and more media use and parents trying to moderate it,
                                                                   Media-light families make up the final quarter (26%) of all
    this study found something different, at least among
                                                                   families: These parents average less than two hours a day
    children ages 0–8: parents set the tone and create a “family
                                                                   with screen media (1:48). They watch TV for just under
    media ecology” that permeates through the generations.
                                                                   an hour a day (:56) and use their computer at home for
    About a quarter of parents (27%) are media-centric parents:    just over a half hour a day (:33). Beyond that, they spend
    They themselves love using media and spend an average          very little time with screen media, including using a
    of 11 hours a day using it (11:04), including more than        smartphone (:10); using iPads, iPod Touches, or similar
    four hours a day watching TV (4:28), three and a half          devices (:06); or playing video games (:03). They are much
    hours a day using the computer at home (3:37), nearly two      less likely to put a TV in their child’s bedroom (28%,
    hours a day using their smartphones (1:48), and half an        compared to 48% in media-centric homes). These families
    hour a day playing video games (:36). These parents often      are less likely to enjoy watching TV or movies together a
    leave the TV on in the home all or most of the time            lot as a family activity (32%, compared to 56% of media-
    whether anyone is watching it or not (54%), and nearly         centric families); and media-light parents are less likely to
    half (48%) have a TV in their child’s bedroom. These           use TV to occupy their child when they need to get things
    families really like watching TV together, with 56% saying     done around the home (69%, compared to 81% of media-
    their family enjoys that “a lot.” More than eight in ten of    centric parents) or when they are getting their child ready
    these parents (81%) say they are “very” or “somewhat”          for bed (24%, compared to 41% among media-centric
    likely to use TV to occupy their child when they need to       parents). Children in media-light families spend an
    do chores or make dinner, and four in ten (41%) say they       average of 1:39 a day using screen media.
    are very or somewhat likely to have their child watch TV


                                                                                                                               7
Table 2: Media Parenting Styles
    Characteristics of media-related parenting styles among parents of children ages 0–8

                                                                    MEDIA-CENTRIC PARENTS               MEDIA-MODERATE PARENTS   MEDIA-LIGHT PARENTS
     PROPORTION OF ALL PARENTS                                                     27%                                  47%              26%
     Average parent screen media time per day                                   11:04a                                 4:42b             1:48c
     Average child screen media time per day                                      4:29a                                2:53b             1:39c
     Percent with TV in the child’s bedroom                                         48a                                  33b              28b
     Percent who say the TV is “hardly ever” or “never”
                                                                                    13a                                  18b              36c
     left on when no one is watching
     Percent who say the TV is left on “all or most”
                                                                                    54a                                  33b              19c
     of the time, whether anyone is watching or not
     Percent whose families enjoy watching TV or
                                                                                    56a                                  42b              32c
     movies at home together “a lot”
     Percent who “strongly” or “somewhat” agree that
                                                                                    23a                                  17b              12c
     they use media as a way to connect with their kids
     Percent who are “very” or “somewhat” likely to
     have their child watch a TV show while the parent                              81a                                  81a              69b
     gets chores done or makes dinner
     Percent who are “very” or “somewhat” likely to
     have their child watch a TV show when getting                                  41a                                  34b              24c
     them ready for bed
    Note: Statistical significance is denoted across rows; items that share a common superscript do not differ significantly.




8
Methodology
This report is based on a nationally representative survey of     The report is based on the national survey of parents of
2,326 parents of children aged eight years old and younger,       children aged eight and under. Throughout the report, when
conducted from November 27 to December 10, 2012. The              we refer to “families” or “parents,” we mean families and
survey was conducted for Northwestern University’s Center         parents with children in this age range. “Lower-income”
on Media and Human Development by GfK (formerly                   families include those with annual incomes of less than
Knowledge Networks) and was offered in English or Spanish.        $25,000 a year; “higher-income” includes those earning more
                                                                  than $100,000 a year.
This is a revised and corrected report. The original report
was issued in June 2013, but due to weighting and                 In the survey, a “smartphone” was defined as “a cellphone that
computational errors by the firm that fielded the survey, GfK,    can be used to send email, watch videos, download apps, or
this corrected report was necessary.                              access the Internet (like an iPhone, Galaxy, or Droid).” A tablet
                                                                  was defined as a device “like an iPad, Kindle Fire, or Galaxy
The survey used KnowledgePanel, an online probability panel
                                                                  Tab.” A handheld video-game player was defined as a device
that has been recruited through national random surveys
                                                                  “like a Gameboy, PSP, or Nintendo DS.” A video iPod was
(originally by telephone and now almost entirely by address-
                                                                  defined as “like an iPod Touch or similar device.” An e-reader
based sampling). Households that are not online are provided
                                                                  was defined as “like a Kindle or a Nook.” An educational game
with Notebook computers and access to the Internet so they
                                                                  player was defined as “like a Leapster.” When survey questions
can participate. Unlike Internet convenience panels (also
                                                                  referred to “mobile devices” those were defined as “like a
known as “opt-in” panels) that include only individuals with
                                                                  smartphone, iPad, or similar device.”
Internet access who volunteer or are recruited through word-
of-mouth to be part of research, KnowledgePanel recruitment       In tables where statistical significance has been calculated,
uses dual sampling frames that include both listed and            the results are noted through a series of superscripts (a, b,
unlisted telephone numbers, telephone and non-telephone           or c). Items that share a common superscript do not differ
households, and cellphone-only households, as well as             significantly (p
About Parents Today
Parent concerns. When asked about potential parenting
                                                                            Table 3: Parental Concerns
concerns regarding their young children, the greatest number
                                                                            Among parents of 0–8 year-olds, percent who are
of parents are “very” or “somewhat” concerned about their
                                                                            “very” or “somewhat” concerned about their child's . . .
child’s health and safety (46%) and fitness and nutrition (40%).
A little over one-third of parents express concerns over their                                                    Among all
                                                                            Health and safety                       46
children’s social and emotional skills (38%) and behavior                   Fitness and nutrition                   40
(38%). One in three parents (30%) of children in this young                 Social and emotional skills             38
                                                                            Behavior                                38
age group report that they are very or somewhat concerned                   School performance                      32
about their child’s media use. Of course, parents’ concerns                 Literacy skills                         32
                                                                            Media use                               30
for their children change as their children grow up and go                  Math and science skills                 30
through different developmental stages. For example, few                    Sleep patterns                          30
                                                                            Verbal skills                           29
parents of children under age 2 are concerned about their                   Extra-curricular activities             27
child’s school performance (21%), compared to 44% of parents                Child care experiences                  27
                                                                            Cultural awareness                      26
of 6- to 8-year-old children. Similarly, more parents of                    Creativity and talent                   25
children under age 2 are concerned about sleep patterns                     Spirituality and religion               25
(34%), compared to 28% of parents of 6- to 8-year-olds.



     Table 4: Parental Concerns, by Child Age
     Percent of parents who say they are “very” or “somewhat” concerned about their child's . . .

      PARENTS OF CHILDREN UNDER 2 YEARS OLD           PARENTS OF 2- TO 5-YEAR-OLDS                        PARENTS OF 6- TO 8-YEAR-OLDS
     Health and safety                  47     Health and safety                        43       Health and safety                       47
     Fitness and nutrition              40     Fitness and nutrition                    39       School performance                      44
     Sleep patterns                     34     Behavior                                 39       Fitness and nutrition                   42
     Childcare experiences              33     Social-emotional skills                  38       Social-emotional skills                 42
     Social-emotional skills            33     Literacy                                 32       Behavior                                40
     Behavior                           30     Sleep patterns                           31       Math and science skills                 39
     Verbal skills                      30     School performance                       29       Literacy                                37
     Creativity and talent              27     Verbal skills                            29       Media use                               36
     Media use                          25     Media use                                28       Extracurricular activities              31
     Extracurricular activities         24     Childcare experiences                    27       Cultural awareness                      29
     Cultural awareness                 24     Math and science skills                  27       Verbal skills                           28
     Spirituality and religion          23     Extracurricular activities               25       Sleep patterns                          28
     Literacy                           23     Cultural awareness                       25       Creativity and talent                   27
     Math and science skills            22     Creativity and talent                    25       Spirituality and religion               27
     School performance                 21     Spirituality and religion                24       Childcare experiences                   23




10
Parent concerns about media and technology. Parents of              Parenting skills. Parents exhibit a strong sense of confidence
children ages 0–8 do not express much concern about their           about their abilities as parents: nine out of ten say they believe
children’s media use. Just under a third (30%) of parents say       they have “all the skills necessary to be a good parent to my
they are “very” (13%) or “somewhat” (17%) concerned about           child.” This includes 57% who “strongly” agree and 37% who
their children’s media and technology use. On the other hand,       “somewhat” agree with that statement.
more than half (55%) say they are either “not too” (31%) or
                                                                    Sources of parenting advice. Surprisingly, websites, blogs, and
“not at all” (24%) concerned, while 13% say that the issue is
                                                                    social networking sites are not a very significant source of
not relevant, given their child’s age.
                                                                    parenting advice. Parents are much more likely to rely on
Parents’ concerns about media and technology do increase            people than on media for parenting advice, including spouses
as the child gets older, from 25% among parents of children         (62% are “very” likely to turn to them for advice), their own
under 2 to 36% among those with 6- to 8-year-olds. Parents          mothers (35%), and friends (24%). By comparison only 15% of
of boys are more likely to be concerned than parents of girls       parents say they are very likely to get parenting advice from
(34%, compared to 27%), with the difference also increasing as      books or magazines, 10% from websites or blogs, and 5% from
children get older. Among parents with 6- to 8-year-olds, 42%       social networking sites.
of parents of boys say they are very or somewhat concerned,
compared to 30% of parents of girls.                                  Table 5: Parental Stress
                                                                      Among parents of 0- to 8- year-olds, percent who are
At the same time, some parents are concerned about their              stressed about each issue
children becoming “addicted” to new media or exposed to
                                                                                                         Very stressed Somewhat stressed
media they do not approve of at someone else’s home. Four             Money                                   29		           38
in 10 (40%) are concerned that their child may become                 Having time to get things done          21		           46
                                                                      Work                                    14		           34
addicted to new mobile media like smartphones or tablets (but         Having time for family                  13		           34
57% are not concerned about that). Half (51%) of parents              Parental responsibilities               12		           36
                                                                      Health issues                            6		           22
worry about their child’s media exposure at someone else’s
home (47% are not worried about this).
                                                                      Table 6: Sources of Parenting Advice
Parent stresses. The biggest stressor in parents’ lives is money.     Among parents of 0- to 8- year-olds, percent who are
Three in ten parents (29%) say they are “very” stressed about         likely to go to each source for parenting advice or
money, and 38% are “somewhat” stressed about it. Time is the          information
next highest concern, with 21% saying they are “very” stressed                                                Very likely   Somewhat likely
                                                                      Spouse*                                    62		            27
about having enough time to get everything done, although             Mother                                     35		            33
fewer (13%) are “very” stressed specifically about having             Pediatrician                               32		            41
                                                                      Friends                                    24		            50
enough time for the family. Only 12% say they are “very”              Father                                     20		            25
stressed about their parental responsibilities.                       Teacher                                    19		            38
                                                                      Other relative                             17		            35
                                                                      In-laws*                                   18		            30
                                                                      Faith leader                               16		            23
                                                                      Book/magazine                              15		            41
                                                                      Website or blog                            10		            33
                                                                      Social networking site                       5		           13
                                                                      *Among those with a spouse or partner




                                                                                                                                              11
The Home Environment
Television. Television is still the central focus of most
                                                                   Chart 4: TV in the Home
families’ media environments. Fewer than 1% of families do
                                                                   Percent of families with children ages 0–8 with each
not have a TV; half (49%) have three or more, and nearly a
                                                                   item in the home
quarter (22%) have four or more. About three out of four
                                                                         100
families (72%) have a console video game player hooked up to                             99
a TV. New television-related technologies have made it into                  80
the mainstream, with nearly half (46%) of all families saying
                                                                                                        72         72
they have a digital video recorder (DVR), and a similar                      60




                                                                   Percent
proportion (43%) saying that their TV is connected to the
                                                                             40                                            46
Internet so they can download or stream content. But there                                                                           43
are still about one in four families (28%) who do not have
                                                                             20
cable or satellite TV and continue to rely exclusively on
broadcast.                                                                   0
                                                                                      Television    Cable or    Console    Digital Internet-
Many families keep the TV on as background noise, whether                                 set       satellite    video      video connected
                                                                                                                 game     recorder    TV
anyone is watching it or not. More than one in three (35%)                                                       player
families say a TV is left on “always” or “most of the time” in
their home, while 22% say it is “hardly ever” or “never” left on   Chart 5: Background Television
(42% say it is left on “some of the time”). About a third (36%)    Percent of homes with children ages 0–8 where the TV is
of families have TVs in their young children’s bedrooms,           left on in the background
ranging from 21% of children under 2 to 42% of 6- to
8-year-olds.                                                                                                 4 7
                                                                              Never                                              Always
                                                                                                   18               28
                                                                   Hardly ever
                                                                                                                                 Most of
                                                                                                                                 the time

                                                                                                        42
                                                                                                                                 Some of
                                                                                                                                 the time




                                                                   Chart 6: TV in the Bedroom
                                                                   Percent of children with a TV in their bedroom, by age

                                                                             60

                                                                             40
                                                                                                                   42
                                                                   Percent




                                                                                                        36
                                                                             20
                                                                                         21

                                                                              0
                                                                                       Under         2 to        6 to
                                                                                       2 years      5 years     8 years
                                                                                         old          old         old




12
Mobile media technology. Newer mobile devices are also very
                                                                     Chart 7: Mobile Technology Ownership
common among families with young children. Seven in ten
                                                                     Percent of families with children ages 0–8 with each
(69%) families now say they have a smartphone, meaning a
                                                                     item in the home
phone that can be used to download apps, connect to the
Internet, and watch videos. Four in ten (40%) now have a                     80

tablet device such as an iPad, a Kindle Fire, or a Galaxy Tab, a                     69
                                                                             60
rapid spread of a relatively new technology. One in four (24%)




                                                                   Percent
have a video iPod such as an iPod Touch or similar device, and               40                  42            40
a similar percentage (23%) now report having at least one
e-reader in the home, such as a Kindle or a Nook.                            20                                            24            23

However, these newer mobile devices have not penetrated                      0
                                                                                  Smartphone Handheld Tablet              Video       e-Reader
widely when it comes to young children owning their own                                        video  device               iPod
devices; 6% of 0- to 8-year-olds have their own iPod Touch                                    game
                                                                                              player
or similar device, and the same percentage have their own
iPad or other tablet device. Only 2% have a cellphone. Among       Note: See the methodology section of the report for a definition of each type
                                                                   of device.
6- to 8-year-olds, 12% have an iPod Touch or similar device,
and 7% have their own tablet device. This compares to nearly
half (48%) who have their own handheld gamer such as a               Chart 8: Personal Media Devices
Nintendo DS, Gameboy, or PSP, and 25% who have an                    Percent of children ages 0–8 with their own devices
educational game player such as a Leapster (ownership of                     40
Leapster-style devices peaks in the 2- to 5-year-old age range,
at 38%).                                                                     30
                                                                                     27
                                                                                              25
                                                                   Percent




                                                                             20


                                                                             10

                                                                                                         6          6          2         1
                                                                             0
                                                                                   Educa-    Hand-     Video     Tablet      Cell      Smart-
                                                                                    tional    held      iPod     device     phone      phone
                                                                                    game     video
                                                                                   player    game
                                                                                             player
                                                                   Note: See the methodology section of the report for a definition of each type
                                                                   of device.




                                                                                                                                                   13
Income and new technology ownership. This study
                                                                Table 7: Mobile Technology Ownership, by Income
uncovered substantial differences in technology ownership
                                                                Percent of parents of 0- to 8-year-olds with each item in
between lower- and upper-income families. Not surprisingly,
                                                                the household
higher-income families are much more likely to have new
mobile devices in the home, with the most dramatic difference                      LESS THAN       $25,000–        $50,000–       $100,000
                                                                                    $25,000         49,999          99,999        A YEAR OR
coming in the percent that own a tablet computer such as an                          A YEAR         A YEAR          A YEAR          MORE
iPad, Kindle Fire, or Galaxy Tab (65% of higher-income           Smartphone            55a             61a            75b             81c
families, compared to 18% of lower-income ones). While the       Tablet device         18a             28b             47c            65d
gap in smartphone ownership is also substantial, even most       e-Reader              10a             18b             27c            36d
lower-income households have at least one smartphone (55%,       Video iPod            11a             21b             28c            33c
compared to 81% of higher-income households). Interestingly,    Note: See the methodology section of the report for a definition of each type
tablets have already surpassed e-readers and video iPods        of device.

among all families, including those with lower incomes.




 “    Lately he only wants to play Minecraft or watch
      Minecraft videos on YouTube. It verges on an addiction.
      [Survey response from the mother of an 8-year-old boy]

                                                                ”“                     My four year old is very well
                                                                                       rounded. . . . There is never a




                          “                                     ”
                                                                                       dull moment. The television is
                             Friday night is family movie night.                       secondary. We spend a lot of




                                                                                                                                    ”
                             [Survey response from the mother of a                     time in the kitchen preparing
                             6-year-old boy]                                           meals, singing, and reminiscing.




     “
                                                                                       [Survey response from the mother
         Our pattern is to allow [our                                                  of a 4-year-old girl]
         son] to crawl into bed with



                                        “
         us on Saturday and Sunday



                                                                                                   ”
                                                                We spend most of our time




                                     ”
         morning, and he watches                                outdoors if weather permits.
         cartoons for about 2 hours.
                                                                [Survey response from the
         [Survey response from the                              mother of a 4-year-old boy]
         father of a 3-year-old boy]




                                      “       Her TV time is normally evening time with mom and dad.
                                              [Survey response from the mother of a one-year-old girl]
                                                                                                                                ”
14
Family Activities
Favorite family activities. When asked which activities
                                                                    Table 8: Favorite Family Activities
their family enjoys doing together, fewer parents report
                                                                    Percent of parents of 0- to 8-year-olds who say their
enjoying using media together compared to other activities
                                                                    family enjoys doing each activity together
such as cooking and eating meals together (66% say they enjoy
                                                                                                                          Enjoys       Enjoys
that “a lot”); doing things outside, like playing, taking a walk,                                                          a Lot     Somewhat
or going to the park (52%); or singing songs or making music        Cooking and eating meals together		                     66           27
together (30%). Among media activities, watching TV or              Doing things outside together		                         52           40
                                                                    Reading together		                                      47           39
movies together at home was ranked highest (43%), followed          Playing with toys, games, or art together		             46           43
by using a computer, tablet device, or smartphone together          Watching TV or movies together at home		                43           42
                                                                    Singing songs or making music together		                30           36
(16%), and playing video games together (11%).                      Playing or attending sports together		                  20           29
                                                                    Using computer, tablet, or smartphone together          16           35
Parents and children using media technologies together.             Playing video games together		                          11           27
                                                                    Participating in clubs or other groups together          8           21
Parents and children frequently use media technologies
together, at least when children are very young (5 and under).
Among parents of children ages 0–8, three out of ten parents        Table 9: Parental Co-Engagement, by Technology
say that when their child is watching TV (31%), using the           Among parents whose 0- to 8-year-olds engage in each
computer (29%), or playing on a smartphone (29%), the               activity, the percent who say they do the activity with the
                                                                    child
parent is watching or playing along with them “all or most” of                                                     All or most         Some of
                                                                                                                   of the time         the time
the time. Parental coviewing of all media goes down as the
                                                                    Watching TV		                                       31                57
child grows up. For example, more than half (53%) of parents        Using the computer		                                29                41
with children under two say they watch TV with their child all      Using a smartphone for games, videos or
                                                                     the Internet		                                     29                35
or most of the time the child is watching; among 2- to 5-year-      Using an iPad, iPod Touch, or similar device		      21                42
olds, the rate of parental co-viewing goes down to 32%; and         Playing console video games		                       16                36
                                                                    Playing games on a handheld player 		                4                24
among 6- to 8-year-olds, only 23% of parents co-view all or
most of the time. Still, the raw amount of time spent
co-viewing may be greater among the 6- to 8-year-olds, given        Table 10: Parental Co-Engagement, by Child Age
that they watch more TV than younger children.                      Among parents whose children engage in each activity,
                                                                    the percent who do it with the child “all or most of the
                                                                    time” the child is doing it
                                                                                                       UNDER 2    2 TO 5    6 TO 8
                                                                                                      YEARS OLD YEARS OLD YEARS OLD
                                                                     Watching TV                          53a            32b            23c
                                                                     Using the computer                    —             40a            20b
                                                                     Playing console
                                                                                                           —             28a             9b
                                                                     video games
                                                                     Using an iPad, iPod Touch,
                                                                                                           —             28a            11b
                                                                     or similar device
                                                                     Using a smartphone for
                                                                                                           —             34a            13b
                                                                     games, videos, or Internet



                                                                    Note: A dash in the column (“—”) indicates that the sample size was too small
                                                                    for reliable results.




                                                                                                                                                    15
Using Media and Technology as a Parenting Tool
Keeping a child occupied. All parents have those moments
                                                                   Table 11: Parenting Tools to Keep Child Busy
when they need something to keep their children occupied so
                                                                   Around the House
they can get things done around the house, whether it is
                                                                   Percent of parents of 0- to 8-year-olds who are likely
taking a shower, paying the bills, or making dinner. Many          to give their child each item to keep them busy while
parents turn to technology in these circumstances, but most        making dinner or doing chores
say they are even more likely to use books, toys, and activities                                          Very Likely       Somewhat Likely
to keep children occupied. When they do turn to media, it is       Activity or toy                           52		                36
most likely to be TV. So far, mobile devices are not playing a     Book                                      39		                40
                                                                   TV show or DVD                            36		                41
big role in this regard. For example, when parents need to         Handheld video game player                18		                29
prepare dinner or do chores and are looking to keep their          Mobile device                             12		                25
                                                                   Computer                                  10		                25
children occupied, 52% say they are “very” likely to give their
children a toy or activity to engage in, compared to 36% who       Notes: Answers for handheld gamers and mobile devices are among those who
                                                                   own such a device. See the methodology section of the report for a definition
are very likely to put them in front of a TV show to watch and     of each type of device.
12% to give them a mobile device to use (among those who
have a mobile device). Similarly, 30% of parents say they are
                                                                   Table 12: Parenting Tools to Keep Child
“very” likely to give their children a toy or activity to occupy
                                                                   Occupied at a Restaurant
them when they are out at a restaurant, compared to 14% who
                                                                   Percent of parents of 0- to 8-year-olds who are likely to
say the same about giving their children a mobile device like a    give their child each item while at a restaurant
smartphone or tablet (among those who own one). Not
surprisingly, use of media to keep children occupied varies by
                                                                                                          Very Likely       Somewhat Likely
child age: for example, among parents who own a mobile             Activity or toy                            30		               34
device, 17% say they are very or somewhat likely to give one to    Book                                       18		               30
                                                                   Mobile device                              14 		              24
their under-2-year-old child when they need to get things          TV show or DVD                              3		                6
done around the house, compared to 41% and 42% among               Handheld video game player                  7		               16
                                                                   Computer                                    2		                3
parents of 2- to 5- and 6- to 8-year-olds, respectively. Similar
differences apply when families are out at a restaurant.           Notes: Answers for handheld gamers and mobile devices are among those who
                                                                   own such a device. See the methodology section of the report for a definition
                                                                   of each type of device.
Getting a child ready for bed. While it’s still common for
children to go to bed with a book or a story at night, it’s
certainly not a universal practice; and going to bed with a TV     Table 13: Parenting Tools at Bedtime
show instead of a book is no longer a rarity. When getting         Percent of parents of 0- to 8-year-olds who are likely to give
children ready for bed, a third (33%) of parents are at least      their child each item when getting them ready for bed
“somewhat” likely to let their child watch a TV show or DVD;                                              Very Likely       Somewhat Likely
very few parents are likely to let them use a handheld gaming      Book                                      54		                24
                                                                   TV show or DVD                            12		                21
device (5% among those who own one) or mobile device (8%           Activity or toy                             6		               13
among those who own one) when getting ready for bed. More          Mobile device                               2		                6
                                                                   Handheld video game player                  2		                3
than half (54%) of parents are “very” likely and another           Computer                                    1		                3
quarter (24%) are “somewhat” likely to give their child a book
                                                                   Notes: Answers for handheld gamers and mobile devices are among those who
to read when getting them ready for bed. Again, there are
                                                                   own such a device. See the methodology section of the report for a definition
fewer differences by age, but some do exist: for example, 21%      of each type of device.
of parents say they are very or somewhat likely to put their
under-two-year-old to bed using TV, compared to 38% of



16
parents of 2- to 5-year-olds and 34% of parents of 6- to
                                                                     Table 14: Parenting Tools to Calm an Upset Child
8-year-olds.
                                                                     Percent of parents of 0- to 8-year-olds who are likely to
Calming an upset child. When a child is upset and the parent         give their child each item when trying to help them
is trying to calm him or her down, parents are more likely to        calm down
                                                                                                            Very Likely       Somewhat Likely
turn to a toy or activity (65% “very” or “somewhat” likely) or a     Activity or toy                           31		                34
book (58%) than to media. However, 41% are at least “somewhat”       Book                                      23		                35
                                                                     TV show or DVD                            13		                28
likely to let the child watch TV in this circumstance, but only      Handheld video game player                  7		               10
17% are likely to use a handheld gaming device, 17% to let           Mobile device                               5		               12
                                                                     Computer                                    3		                8
him or her use a mobile device (among those who have one),
and 11% a computer. Once again, the child’s age plays some           Notes: Answers for handheld gamers and mobile devices are among those who
                                                                     own such a device. See the methodology section of the report for a definition
role: For example, fewer parents use a toy or activity as the
                                                                     of each type of device.
child gets older, and more use a handheld gaming device.

Rewarding or disciplining a child. Many parents do use               Table 15: Parenting Tools to Reward or
media or technology to discipline or reward their children.          Discipline a Child
Television seems to be the medium most widely used as a tool         Percent of parents of 0- to 8-year-olds who are “very” or
for this purpose, with mobile devices lagging behind. Even TV,       “somewhat” likely to reward or discipline a child by giving
                                                                     or taking away time with each item
however, is not as widely used to reward or discipline as books
or toys. Naturally, using technology as a tool to reward or                                      Reward    Discipline by
                                                                     		                          by giving taking away
discipline a child increases as the child gets older; eight in ten   Activity or toy		 85                       67
parents of 6- to 8-year-olds say they are very or somewhat           Books		69                                  15
                                                                     TV show or DVD		 69                        72
likely to take away TV or a handheld gaming device as a              Handheld video game player		 58            67
consequence, compared to three in ten parents of children            Mobile device		 44                         60
                                                                     Computer		43                               55
under 2.
                                                                     Notes: Answers for handheld gamers and mobile devices are among those who
Educating a child. When parents of children age eight or             own such a device. See the methodology section of the report for a definition
                                                                     of each type of device.
under are looking for an educational activity for their child
to engage in, they are much more likely to direct the child
to a book or encourage them to play with toys than they are to       Table 16: Parenting Tools for Educating Children
give them any type of technology to use, including computers.        Percent of parents of 0- to 8-year-olds who are likely to
In this regard, books still reign supreme, with 61% of parents       give their child each item when they want them to engage
saying they are “very” likely to give their young child a book       in an educational activity
when they want him or her to have an educational activity;                                                  Very Likely       Somewhat Likely
                                                                     Book                                      61		                28
just 10% say the same about smartphones or iPads (among              Activity or toy                           41		                36
those who own them), and even computers rank far lower               Computer                                  16		                29
                                                                     TV show or DVD                            12		                25
than books, at just 16%. That is not to say parents think TV,        Mobile device                             10		                22
video games, or mobile devices have no educational benefits­.        Handheld video game player                  4		               11
However, when they are specifically looking for an educational
                                                                     Notes: Answers for handheld gamers and mobile devices are among those who
activity for a child in this young age group, media are not the      own such a device. See the methodology section of the report for a definition
                                                                     of each type of device.
first­—or the second—place they look.




                                                                                                                                                     17
While books dominate across all age groups, use of screen          them (compared to 15% for children under two and 42%
media as an educational activity varies as a function of the       among parents of 2- to 5-year-olds). The proportion of parents
child’s age and the type of platform. For example, two-thirds of   who say they are “very” or “somewhat” likely to give their
parents (64%) of 6- to 8-year-olds say they are “very” or          child a TV show to watch as an educational activity peaks
“somewhat” likely to give their child something to do on the       among parents of 2- to 5-year-olds (at 44%), going down to
computer when they are looking for an educational activity for     29% among parents of 6- to 8-year-olds.




             “
                 I don't like that he watches 2 and 1/2 hours or so of TV,




                                                                                ”
                 but I try and make it educational shows. It is hard to be
                 with him every second when I have housework to do.
                 [Survey response from the mother of a 7-year-old boy]




     “                                                                          “
                                                                                        We try to split between




                                                                                                                ”
         Because he’ll calm down and watch                                              books one night, cartoons




                            ”
         Sprout and drift off to sleep without                                          the next, then the iPad.
         a temper tantrum.
                                                                                        [Survey response from the
         [Mother of a 3-year-old boy, when                                              mother of a 2-year-old girl]
         asked why she put a TV in her son’s
         bedroom, Illinois focus group]




                                   “     PBS KIDS­—you know you don’t have to worry about it.
                                         [Mother of a 15-month-old child, talking about how she
                                         selects TV shows for her son to watch, Illinois focus group]    ”
         “    She has to be on Honor Roll to play video games.
              [Survey response from the mother of an 8-year-old girl]
                                                                      ”
18
Parent Attitudes About Media and Technology
Have new mobile devices made parenting easier? Three in             For each platform except video games, parents are more likely
ten parents (29%) say these new mobile devices have made            to say technology has a positive than negative effect on young
parenting easier, while seven in ten (70%) say they have not.       children’s creativity and basic educational skills (although
Among parents who own both a smartphone and a tablet                many parents say these technologies have no impact one way
(34% of all parents), 38% say they have made parenting easier,      or the other). A majority of parents believe that computers
while 61% disagree.                                                 have a mainly positive effect on young children’s reading (59%
                                                                    say very or somewhat positive) and math (54%) skills, and that
Among the 70% of parents who say they do not think these
                                                                    television has a mainly positive effect on young children’s
tools have made parenting easier, 58% say one reason they
                                                                    speaking skills (56%). Parents are more likely to find a positive
feel that way is because of their worries that children will fail
                                                                    than negative effect from TV on reading (40%, compared to
to develop important social skills if they spend too much time
                                                                    25%), math skills (37%, compared to 18%), and creativity
on these devices. An equal percentage say another reason is
                                                                    (46%, compared to 24%) among children eight and under.
because it is harder to get children’ attention when they always
                                                                    More parents also say computers have more of a positive than
have their heads buried in a device (58%). About half (53%)
                                                                    negative effect on creativity (50%, compared to 14%) and
say they are concerned that children can get addicted to these
                                                                    speaking skills (28%, compared to 20%). Thirty-seven percent
devices, while a third (32%) say it is because these devices are
                                                                    of parents say that mobile devices, such as smartphones and
just one more thing for parents and children to fight about.
                                                                    tablets, have a mainly positive effect on reading, with 31%
On the other hand, among the 29% of parents who say                 saying a mainly positive effect on both math skills and
the devices do make parenting easier, 71% say it’s because          creativity. The one medium that runs counter to this trend is
there are lots of fun activities for children to do on mobile       video games: when it comes to the effect of gaming on
media to keep them entertained, while a similar percent (69%)       children’s reading, math, speaking skills and creativity, more
say it is because these tools have lots of educational content      parents have a negative rather than a positive view.
that teaches important lessons. Forty-three percent say the
                                                                    In terms of the impact of technology on young children’s
devices help parents get things done quicker.
                                                                    attention spans, more parents have a negative view than a
Positive and negative educational effects of media and              positive view. About four in ten parents believe video games
technology. The survey asked parents their opinion as to            (46%), TV (42%), and mobile devices (38%) negatively affect
whether each technology has a mainly positive or a mainly           attention span. Still, there are many parents who think these
negative effect on the educational development of children          technologies have no effect on children’s attention spans one
their child’s age. The identical questions were asked about         way or the other: 41% for computers, 41% for mobile devices,
television, computers, video games, and mobile devices such         33% for video games, and 29% for television.
as smartphones and tablet devices. Parents were asked about
the impact of each technology on children’s reading, speaking,
and math skills; their creativity; and their attention span.




                                                                                                                                  19
Table 17: Parents’ Opinions about the Educational Impact of Technology, by Platform
     Among parents of 0- to 8-year-olds, percent who say each medium has a (very or somewhat) positive or negative effect on
     children’s academic skills
                         READING SKILLS                  MATH SKILLS        SPEAKING SKILLS          ATTENTION SPAN                CREATIVITY
                    Positive Neutral Negative Positive Neutral Negative Positive Neutral Negative Positive Neutral Negative Positive Neutral Negative

      Television       40        34       25        37       44        18   56    28       15       29      29       42       46      29        24

      Computers        59        28        9        54       35        10   28    50       20       29      41       26       50      33        14

      Video
                       20        41       37        18       45        35   10    47       39       19      33       46       26      35        36
      games
      Mobile
                       37        39       22        31       44        22   21    49       28       19      41       38       31      40        27
      devices
     Note: Mobile devices include smartphones and tablets.




Educational media and technology and less advantaged
                                                                                  Table 18: Parents’ Opinions about Television’s
children. Lower-income and less highly educated parents are
                                                                                  Educational Impact, by Income
more likely than other parents to turn to TV for educational
                                                                                  Percent of parents of 0- to 8-year-olds who think TV has a
purposes. For example, half (49%) of parents with a high                          “very” positive impact on children’s skills, by income
school degree or less say they are very or somewhat likely to
                                                                                                   Lower income    Higher income
direct their child to a TV or DVD when they are looking for                                       (under $25,000 ($100,000 or more
an educational activity for them, compared to 34% of those                        		                  a year)         a year)
                                                                                  Reading skills		 22a                   4b
with a college education. The results are similar when looked                     Math skills		 19         a             4b
at by income, with 52% of lower-income versus 30% of higher-                      Speaking skills		 26a                  7b
                                                                                                           a
                                                                                  Social skills		 17                     4b
income parents saying they are very or somewhat likely to use                     Creativity		24a                        5b
TV or DVDs for educational purposes. Lower-income and
less-highly educated parents are also more likely to think TV
has a “very” positive effect on their child’s reading, speaking,
math, and social skills. Similar differences can be found in
parents’ views about the positives and negatives of computers
and video games as well.




20
“  The iPad has turned into his



                                                                     ”
                                         primary learning tool at home.
                                         [Survey response from the father
                                         of a one-year-old boy]




“
I can remain connected with my



                              ”
life while being with my children.
[Survey response from the father of
a one-year-old boy]

                                                  “   She may choose an activity involving
                                                      technical devices, all of which are
                                                      educational. . . . She enjoys playing




                                                                  ”
                                                      Angry Birds, which improves her
                                                      analytical skills.
                                                      [Survey response from the mother of a
                                                      6-year-old girl]




     “                                           ”
          Another reason to become a couch potato.
          [Survey response from the mother of a 4-year-old boy]




                                                 “                                      ”
                                                     Quick distraction for public meltdowns.




“
                                                     [Survey response from the father of a
    They limit family                                3-year-old boy]




                     ”
    interaction, regardless
    of who is using them.




                                       “
    [Survey response from
    the father of a one-




                                                                            ”
    year-old girl]                          He learns a lot from Mickey Mouse
                                            about counting, shapes, and colors.
                                            [Survey response from the mother of a
                                            2-year-old boy]




                                                                                               21
Parents’ Views about the Social,
Behavioral, and Physical Impact of Media
Parent attitudes about the effects of technology on social                   about whether TV has a positive or negative effect on behavior
skills and behavior. While parents are more likely to see                    (30% positive, 30% negative); but among parents of 6- to
educational advantages than disadvantages when it comes to                   8-year-olds, only 16% say TV has a positive effect on behavior,
technology use, this is not the case when it comes to the                    compared to 46% who say negative.
impact on their children’s social skills or behavior. Parents are
                                                                             At the same time, many parents do not think media and
quicker to perceive a negative effect in these realms, especially
                                                                             technology have much effect on young children’s social skills
when it comes to video games and new mobile media devices
                                                                             or behavior one way or the other. For example, 60% say there
like smartphones and tablets. Half (50%) of parents say video
                                                                             is no positive or negative effect from computers on young
games have a negative effect on social skills, compared to 11%
                                                                             children’s behavior, 55% say none from mobile devices, 42%
who say they have a positive effect, with similar proportions
                                                                             say the same for video games, and 41% for TV. Similarly, many
saying the same about gaming’s impact on children’s behavior
                                                                             parents are neutral as to whether there is a negative or positive
(47% negative, 8% positive). Thirty-eight percent of parents
                                                                             impact on children’s social skills from mobile devices (43% say
attribute a mainly negative effect from mobile devices on
                                                                             no effect), computers (42%), video games (37%), or television
social skills, compared to 16% positive. Parents are evenly split
                                                                             (34%). The survey makes clear that overall, parents view video
about TV’s impact on their young children’s social skills (34%
                                                                             games far more negatively than other media. Parents are more
positive, compared to 30% negative). The perceived effect of
                                                                             likely to attribute negative effects to video games than they are
TV does vary significantly depending on the child’s age. For
                                                                             any other type of technology.
example, parents of 2- to 5-year-old children are evenly split




  Table 19: Parents’ Opinions about Technology’s Impact on Social Skills and Behavior, by Platform
  Among parents of 0- to 8-year-olds, percent who say each medium has a (very or somewhat) positive or negative effect on
  children’s social skills or behavior

                                                     SOCIAL SKILLS                                         BEHAVIOR
                                  Positive               Negative    No effect            Positive          Negative          No effect
      Television                     34                     30          34                   23               35                 41
      Computers                      20                     35          42                   18               20                 60
      Video games                    11                     50          37                    8               47                 42
      Mobile devices                 16                     38          43                   13               30                 55
     Note: “Mobile devices” includes smartphones and tablets.




22
Perceived impact of technology on physical activity and
sleep. The only instance where the majority of parents              Table 20: Parents’ Opinions about Technology’s
attribute a negative effect to technology is regarding its impact   Impact on Physical Activity and Sleep,
                                                                    by Platform
on physical activity, and that opinion held across all platforms
                                                                    Among parents of 0- to 8-year-olds, percent who say each
(61% for video games, 58% for TV, 57% for computers, and
                                                                    medium has a (very or somewhat) positive or negative
54% for mobile). The impact of media and technology on their        effect on children’s physical activity or social skills
children's sleep is another problem area for parents. A sizeable
                                                                                       PHYSICAL ACTIVITY                       SLEEP
number of parents find a negative effect on sleep, ranging from
                                                                                                      No                       No
49% for video games to 39% for TV, 36% for mobile devices,                         Positive Negative
                                                                                                     effect
                                                                                                            Positive Negative
                                                                                                                              effect
and 30% for computers. By comparison, estimates of positive          Television       20        58        21        11          39     49
effects on sleep range from 3% to 11% for each medium.               Computers        10        57        31         7          30     60
                                                                     Video
                                                                                      10        61        26         3          49     45
                                                                     games
                                                                     Mobile
                                                                                       8        54        36         6          36     56
                                                                     devices
                                                                    Note: “Mobile devices” includes smartphones and tablets.




                 “    One time he ordered something on
                      Amazon­—he bought himself a sippy cup!
                      [Mother of a one-year-old boy, focus group]
                                                                    ” “                     Sometimes I wonder if
                                                                                            my daughter is losing out




                                                                                                                         ”
                                                                                            because she doesn’t know



    “
                                                                                            how to use an iPhone.



                                           ”
         He likes my phone because he can pick it
                                                                                            [Mother of a 2½-year-old
         up—my iPad’s a little heavy for him.                                               girl, focus group]
         [Mother of a 15-month-old boy, focus group]




                                                                                                                                            23
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